Guest Post By: Eric Peters
People think it’s crazy to go without health insurance – not that it’s any of their business. But they think it is their business – and so we have Obamacare and almost Trump Care, which at least would have resurrected some connection between the cost of premiums and the insured person’s risk profile, including such variables as their age and pre-existing conditions.
If you are older or have an established chronic illness, you’d have paid more for coverage under TrumpCare.
This is considered by some to be morally outrageous.
These same people don’t, however, complain about the iniquity of car insurance costing convicted drunk drivers or teenagers or the glaucomic elderly more.
But if my health and track record of physical problems should have no bearing on what I pay for insurance (less or more) why should my DMV record, age or any other such factor affect what I pay for car insurance?
Isn’t the principle the same? Or am I uncouth for mentioning it?
I don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure or any chronic health problems at all. I’ve incurred (cue Dean Wormer from Animal House) zero point zero in medical costs to the cartel. I am still relatively young and very healthy. I don’t smoke, I hardly drink and I exercise often. No allergies. No medications. My BMI is “fit” and I am the same waist size today that I was in high school. I run 3-5 miles every other day.
My health insurance premiums do not reflect any of this. Which is very odd.
It doesn’t matter, Obamacare-wise, that I am a low-risk candidate. The premiums quoted for an individual policy are in the $500-plus a month range and based not on my health but on the not-so-great health of others, whose care my and other healthy people’s premiums subsidize. This includes such things as maternity care, which I as a single male am not likely to need – and pediatric care, which I as a single male without children also am not likely to need. But which I and other single men without kids are made to subsidize.
Which makes our premiums – which ought to be be very low – extremely high. It’s exactly like having to pay $2,000 annually for a car policy because my neighbor is a habitual drunk driver and keeps mashing up his car.
Well, I’d like to have the same principle applied to car insurance – for the sake of equality and fairness.
If it doesn’t matter – and it doesn’t, under Obamacare – whether I am an obese chain smoker who lives on fast food and Hoovermouths a medicine cabinet full of expensive prescription drugs every morning and night – then why should it matter, car insurance-wise, whether I have a couple of speeding tickets under my belt? Or whether, for that matter, I am a habitual drunk driver?
It is outrageous that some people pay higher car insurance premiums based on such “pre-existing conditions” . . . is it not?
Some will tell me that it is a choice – deliberate bad behavior – to break traffic laws or drive drunk and that by doing so, you are demonstrably (statistically, at least) a person who is more likely to have an accident and therefore it is reasonable to charge you more, especially since you could choose to not speed and could drive more cautiously.
Well, sure – certainly.
But why, pray, does the same principle not apply to health insurance? People do not become morbidly obese because an evil genie waved a wand and – presto! – their formerly lean and lithe selves were transmogrified into People of Wal Mart. No one is forced to visit McDonald’s daily, as many people do – or drink several sodas a day. Or forbidden to go to the gym or even for a walk. These are all choices as much as the choice to exceed the speed limit and arguably, less morally defensible because there is no doubt at all that being morbidly obese and eating shit food will result in health repercussions while driving faster than the speed limit will probably result in no repercussions at all.
Why is it considered mean-spirited to expect the Tubby and the Lazy or even the elderly, for that matter, to pay out more for the cost of their actually higher and more frequently necessary medical care – as opposed to the cost of insurance for the young and not-tubby and not-lazy, who generally need less and often no medical care?
Of course insurance ought to be based on risk – else it’s not insurance and absurd to call it that. And yet – uniquely, bizarrely – the element of risk is entirely excluded from this one kind of insurance. Which explains why it’s bankrupting everyone, including most of all those who don’t even use it.
Like myself, for example.
For the 15 years I was married, I was “covered” under my wife’s policy, which she got through her work. But – other than an occasional physical (done at her prompting) I never darkened the doctor’s door. I am blessed with good health but also take very good care of myself.
At some point, eventually, I recognize that I will probably need a doctor’s services. But for now, not. So, after my divorce, I checked out what it would cost me as a self-employed individual, to buy a basic plan – which, per Obamacare, isn’t available. I must buy coverage for things I do not need, such as maternity and pediatric care. And of course, the cost of my premiums reflects the costs of other people’s health problems which – selfishly, I suppose – I am not particularly interested in paying for.
Because I can’t afford to do so. My resources are limited; other people’s problems are unlimited.
I would pay for a policy that took into account my lack of physical problems, past or present – and the probably much lower-than-average risk of my having them in the foreseeable future, based on my health and conditions and habits. I’d go in for a thorough physical to establish such things as my blood pressure and resting heart rate (62 beats per minute, if you’re interested) and which took into account that I exercise a lot and am not likely to become pregnant and don’t have children, pre-existing or otherwise.
I’d pay for it, because (ta da!) it wouldn’t cost $500 per month – based on the fact that I would likely not use it much.
If I did, then it could go up – fine, that’s fair.
But I’m not paying $500-something per month – which is the lowest quote I could find – for nothing . . . to cover other people’s problems, which is what Obamacare amounts to. Which takes no cognizance of my risk profile and which charges me for other people’s risk profiles and for things I absolutely do not need (such as maternity care/pediatric care).
I did the math – and find that pocketing the $500 per month instead leaves me with $6,000 more in my pocket at the end of each year and that covers a lot physicals and even a few stitches, if I happen to have a mishap with the chainsaw again.
Over the next five years, say, that $6k per annum comes to $30,000 in my pocket. Over ten years and it’s $60,000. That would pretty much cover anything less-than-catastrophic that might occur – and leave me change, too. And if nothing catastrophic did occur, I’ve got $60,000 I would otherwise have spent on . . . nothing.
It’s true I might have a heart attack or get cancer. Something catastrophic might happen.
But probably won’t.
For which insurance would be great.
A high deductible/low-premium policy based on the remote risk of a payout, that would cover me if such an unlikely thing were to happen. Kind of like the way my car insurance premium assumes I won’t cause a major accident, based on my track record of not having them – and charges me accordingly.
But Obamacare isn’t insurance – and neither was/would-have-been TrumpCare. They are not even pre=paid medical care plans. They are wealth transfer plans from the young and healthy and responsible to the old and sick and irresponsible.
No one wants to talk about this, which is why the problem is going to get worse (cost everyone more) and make no one happy.
The People of Wal Mart will continue to abound; there will be less and less incentive to not join their ranks, too.
Why not? Working out is . . . work. Hey, I like fast food, too. And if I’m going to be charged as if I were a Super Sizer, why not at least enjoy the lifestyle of a Super Sizer?
Until I no longer get dunned for “speeding” and other such “pre-existing conditions” when it comes to my car insurance, I don’t see why I ought to be made to pay for non-existing conditions when it comes to (cough) health insurance.
Maybe someone will explain it to me.